Senate committee to discuss turfing out Berlusconi

Postponement expected

Senate committee to discuss turfing out Berlusconi

(see related story on Berlusconi) Rome, August 7 - A Senate commission will meet later on Wednesday to discuss whether to strip ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, who had a tax-fraud conviction against him upheld by the supreme court last week, of his status as Senator. However, a vote on turfing the 76-year-old billionaire from the Upper House is likely to be postponed until September. Berlusconi risks being stripped of his parliamentary seat even though a five-year ban on holding public that came with the conviction has been sent back to the Milan appeals court for review. Wednesday's meeting has been convened to discuss whether Berlusconi in ineligible because of a 1957 law that bans people holding public licences, like the ones the ex-premier has for his TV channels, from being lawmakers. But he could also be removed from parliament after the fraud conviction because of a 2012 anti-corruption law, which would probably make him ineligible to run in future elections too. Some of his supporters have said the legislation should not apply to the three-times premier as the original sentence pre-dates the legislation. Members of the commission belonging to the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) are expected to petition for the vote on Berlusconi's Senator status to be held at once on Wednesday. But Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party and centre-left Democratic Party (PD), who are partners in a fractious, fragile coalition supporting Premier Enrico Letta's government, are expected to back a postponement. "I don't think it's possible to conclude things today," said PdL Senate whip Renato Schifani. "There are rules and regulations that have to be respected".

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